Deaf people in Zambia struggle to access HIV information

Posted on July 17, 2014

All Africa website has reported on the problems Deaf people have accessing HIV information in Zambia, a country that prides itself on its HIV information services.

The article tells the story of Faith, a Deaf woman, and also explains some of the background – with disabled women Zambia “particularly vulnerable to abuse and abandonment since they are often dependent on others for care and support.”

This article is well worth a read.


Faith learned she was HIV positive two years ago, after giving birth to her daughter. The Zambian government prides itself on its HIV prevention outreach, and every pregnant woman is supposed to be tested for the virus, to prevent passing it on to their babies. But Faith, now 25, is deaf, and was never tested before the baby was born. Nor did she receive even basic information about HIV.

If people who are deaf don’t bring their own sign language interpreter to health clinics, they are unlikely to get information. Even when they do, they are often greeted with stares by other patients and negative attitudes from some health workers. Now, Faith is on HIV treatment, but it’s a struggle. Her 2-year old daughter is positive too, which might have been prevented if Faith had been tested before the baby arrived.

An estimated two million people with disabilities in Zambia face significant barriers to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, according to a new Human Rights Watch report, “We Are Also Dying of AIDS.” Zambia is a regional leader in providing HIV services.

Yet because people with disabilities in Zambia are often seen as not engaging in sex, they are often excluded from community gatherings where government workers or nongovernmental organizations hand out condoms or educate people about the virus.

To read the full article, click here:

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